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Ramprakash hoping his bowling can help England

By Paul Newman

12 January 1998

MARK RAMPRAKASH, the great unfulfilled talent of English cricket, is looking to his bowling to give him the edge over John Crawley for the undecided batting place in the first Test team.

Ramprakash, the man in possession after his crucial second-innings contribution to England's Oval victory over Australia last summer, wants to utilise his occasional off-spin to capitalise on the dearth of bowling options.

That, coupled with signs of turn from the relaid Sabina Park pitch in the early stages of Jamaica's President's Cup match against Barbados, should be enough to swing the vote the Middlesex captain's way.

As England finally enjoyed lengthy weekend practice sessions at Kingston's Kensington Cricket Club, assistant coach John Emburey, for so long a Middlesex team-mate of Ramprakash and now his spinning adviser, put the case for his inclusion.

``Traditionally, wickets here don't favour spinners, but in recent years their pitches haven't been the norm,'' said Emburey. ``They've been uneven and they've turned. Ramps wanted to bowl in our indoor nets at Old Trafford and is keen to work on it more here.

``He does turn the ball, as he proved in Guyana four years ago, and he bowls a decent line. Now we've got to work on a bit more control over his length.

``Spin must have a role here. Okay, it doesn't always get you a lot of wickets on West Indian pitches, but spinners can control the game. West Indian batsmen do get frustrated. They feel the pressure if they don't score quickly and you can tempt them into big shots.''

An established Ramprakash, after all the trials and tribulations since his encouraging Test debut summer against the West Indies in 1991, would be welcomed by England, who are desperate for his ability to grace the big stage. Even with his 48 against Australia at the Oval, worth much more in a low-scoring game, he averages 17.20 from 20 Tests.

And Ramprakash appears to be in the right frame of mind for a challenge. Each batsman has been urged to 'adopt' a bowler to provide some one-to-one batting encouragement in an attempt to get more runs out of England's tail.

Ramprakash, who has yet to take a Test wicket and only bowled 35.2 overs for Middlesex in the championship last summer, said: ``With John Emburey here it would be criminal not to use his spin bowling knowledge.

``I've tried to get 10 to 15 overs a day of bowling in, anywhere I can. I try to work at it. I bowled on an A Tour of Sri Lanka, but it has never really materialised in county cricket. You need to bowl in matches to improve.''

England, meanwhile, are concerned at the condition of the wicket at the Jarrett Park ground in Montego Bay where they will open the tour on Friday against Jamaica.

The original strip has been discounted as unfit for the match, and the Jamaican umpire Steve Bucknor has been called in to advise on the preparation of a new one. He is confident that it will last four days, but has said that it could be uneven.

David Lloyd, the England coach, now plans to travel from Kingston to Montego Bay ahead of his team to cast an eye over proceedings. Before that, Lloyd will tonight take to Jamaican television along with Mike Atherton, England's captain, to appear on a Test debate.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:14